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Judge Halts Gallatin National Forest Timber Sale

A federal judge in Missoula has called a halt to the 1,700 acre Lonesome Wood logging sale in the Gallatin National forest.

Alliance for the Wild Rockies sued to stop it under the Endangered Species Act.

Mike Garrity with the Alliance says the U.S. Forest Service didn’t adequately study how logging would affect threatened lynx and grizzly bears.

“Lynx numbers are falling, mainly because of logging, and grizzly bears avoid logging roads because that’s where they usually get shot,” Garrity says. “So if we want both of these species to recover we need to protect their habitat.”

Judge Brian Morris ruled that the Forest Service must do a “site-specific” biological opinion, instead of relying on a broader study from 2006, before the sale can proceed. Garrity hopes the forest Service cancels the plan, or at least moves it away from lynx and grizzly bear habitat:

“I think if they shrunk it down and kept the logging close to the homes on Hebgen Lake they can do something like that without harming these species,” he says.

The proposed sale includes 500 acres of old-growth forest. The forest service has not responded to the decision, issued early Friday afternoon.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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